“And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they told him, ‘John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.’ And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.” - Mark 8:27-30
The entirety of Mark’s Gospel has been leading up to this point. Who is Jesus? Obviously, the Son of God knew exactly who he was and what he had come to do. And we have read before about those who believed he was John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. A Gentile woman called him Lord and a legion of demons addressed him as Son of the Most High God. But in today’s passage, the disciples faced a moment of truth when Jesus asked them point blank who they thought he was.
Throughout the Gospel of Mark, Jesus performed many mighty works. As the people said after he healed the deaf mute: “He has done all things well” (Mark 7:37). For those who had eyes to see and ears to hear, there was no doubt that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. He was the promised Messiah for the nation of Israel. Who else could heal disease, drive out demons, raise the dead, calm storms, and feed multitudes with a few loaves and fish? Though clearly a man of power and authority, he also demonstrated tremendous love and compassion for his people. He was a shepherd, teacher, and preacher who could captivate a crowd for three entire days!
Clearly, there were a number of theories about who Jesus was. After they touched on a few of the most prevalent, Jesus asked the disciples directly who they thought he was. And, for the first time in Mark’s Gospel, he was proclaimed the Christ. While we are very familiar with this term, it was not one that the Jews of the day bandied about lightly. It was the ultimate designation, a title reserved for the anointed one who was set apart by God to be his instrument of salvation. Jesus, as the Christ, was the living God, the Lord made manifest. This was the first indication that any of the disciples recognized who Jesus truly was. At least for that moment, Peter’s eyes were opened and he saw clearly.
As soon as Peter uttered the words, Jesus demanded the disciples keep his identity a secret. While many people longed to celebrate Jesus as their rightful Lord, that was not the way of the suffering Messiah. Instead of being elevated as an earthly king, he would be humiliated and crucified as a criminal. The disciples and others who thought the Messiah would save his people with a snap of the finger were in for a rude awakening. Jesus would deliver them and author their salvation, but it would not unfold in the way they expected or desired.
Peter’s acknowledgment marks a turning point in Mark’s Gospel, as Jesus begins his journey toward Jerusalem and then Calvary. It was not what the disciples wanted for their friend, Messiah, and Savior. But, as always, Jesus followed the path of God rather than man. The disciples still had many challenging lessons to learn about what it means to follow Jesus. And Peter’s proclamation would echo in their minds and hearts for years to come.
Who do you believe Jesus is? That is the most important question you can ever ask or be asked. Is he a good prophet and teacher? A way to the Lord? Or is he the Christ, the anointed one who came to author for your salvation? If you choose the latter, a natural follow-up question is whether your life reflects that belief. Have you chosen to surrender yourself and your life to him completely? He will change everything as he calls you to be his disciple, to learn from him, and to join him in building the kingdom of God.
Reflect and Respond:
Jesus said he was the way, not a way, to the Father. Have you put your faith in him and are you walking in his way? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
The Crucified Life small group Christian study is designed to reflect upon the Seven Last Words of Christ from the cross and what they mean for us today. Walk the road of Calvary with Jesus in order to grow closer to Him. The Crucified Life small group study examines human suffering as it is mirrored in Christ’s suffering on the cross and what His seven last words say to a hurting world. Find out incredible insights into these words as Jesus teaches us, even in death, how we can use our suffering and triumph over it for His glory. Begin your Crucified Life today.
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